On May 15, 2020, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act) with a 208 to 199 vote. The $3 trillion bill, designed to provide economic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic,
was sponsored by Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) and co-sponsored by 11 other Democratic representatives.
Of interest to readers of the Longshore Insider is a portion of the bill that affects the maritime industry, Division L – Families, Workers, and Community Support Provisions, and specifically Title V – COVID-19 Protections under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
This bill would amend the Longshore Act in several ways, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As discussed in a recent Longshore Insider article, in order for compensation to be payable under workers’ compensation law, an employee’s
injury must arise out of or in the course of employment. Under the Division L, Title V of the HEROES Act, Longshore Act coverage would be extended to an employee who is diagnosed with COVID-19 any time during the period beginning January 27, 2020
and ending February 27, 2022.
Currently, the bill is on the Senate Legislative Calendar, but no further action is expected until early July.
Author’s Note: AEU has provided insight to, and participated in preparing talking points for, two of the larger maritime industry groups, National Association of Waterfront Employers (NAWE) and Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA), in opposition to this portion of the HEROES Act. In addition to technical issues with how the bill is written and concerns about how the reimbursement would be administered, our main opposition is the expansion of coverage in the Longshore Act that removes the course and scope of employment requirement and also grants coverage to those who may be quarantined without any injury or illness at all. As it currently stands, the Longshore Act is more than capable of addressing COVID-19 as an on-the-job illness, just as any other on-the-job injury or illness.
David Widener joined AEU in 2019 as Director of Claims Advisory Services. David began his longshore career in 2003 with F.A. Richard/American Equity Risk Services, where he was a claims supervisor for eight years. He joined the U.S. Department of Labor as a claims examiner in 2011, and was promoted to District Director six months later, overseeing operations for the Houston District Office. He is a frequent speaker at Loyola Law School’s Annual Longshore Conference, Longshore Claims Association meetings, and Defense Base Act seminars. He has developed and conducted continuing legal education seminars in conjunction with Loyola Law School and the U.S. Department of Labor. David has a B.S. in finance from Louisiana State University and is a credentialed mediator for the state of Texas.